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Women’s basketball aims to surpass BSC preseason polls

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Women’s basketball aims to surpass BSC preseason polls

Senior Violet Kapri Morrow goes in for a layup against Sacramento State last season. Kapri Morrow is one of three returning starters for the Eagles.

Senior Violet Kapri Morrow goes in for a layup against Sacramento State last season. Kapri Morrow is one of three returning starters for the Eagles.

Bailey Montieth

Senior Violet Kapri Morrow goes in for a layup against Sacramento State last season. Kapri Morrow is one of three returning starters for the Eagles.

Bailey Montieth

Bailey Montieth

Senior Violet Kapri Morrow goes in for a layup against Sacramento State last season. Kapri Morrow is one of three returning starters for the Eagles.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

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The EWU women’s basketball team is preparing to tip off the 2018-2019 season, and the Eagles are looking to exceed the expectations placed on them in the Big Sky Conference preseason polls. The Media Poll projects EWU to finish fifth, while the Coaches’ Poll has the Eagles landing in seventh.

Last season EWU finished third in the BSC (12-6, 17-14), but lost in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky tournament to Portland State University. This year, it has set smaller goals that it hopes will result in winning the Big Sky tournament.

“We have [to] take it one game at a time,” senior forward Alissa Sealby said, “and not get blurred by the end goal of winning the Big Sky, because we can’t get there without each individual game before that.”

This season will be the 18th under head coach Wendy Schuller, who is seeking daily improvement from her team.

“We have to trust the process that we’re part of right now,” Schuller said. “It’s a long nonconference schedule in front of us, and once the nonconference is done we’ll have a better gauge in terms of what we feel like we can do in the Big Sky.”

EWU’s all-time leading scorer and first-team All-Big Sky selection Delaney Hodgins graduated in the spring. Schuller said that it will take a team-wide effort to make up the ground lost with Hodgins’ departure.

“You’re always going to have kids that graduate that are great scorers,” Schuller said. “You hope that the culture and the system you have in place has helped develop the younger players so that they can assume those roles as scorers. I don’t think we’re relying on any one person to pick up all of what Delaney was able to do last year. Everybody has to do just a little bit more, and I think we have some outstanding young freshmen that will also come in and contribute.”

The three starters from last season returning to EWU are senior guard Violet Kapri Morrow, junior forward Uriah Howard and sophomore guard Brittany Klaman. Morrow was recognized last season as third-team All-Big Sky and needs just 200 more points to become the 18th Eagle to reach 1,000 in her career.

The four other players returning from the 2017-2018 season are Sealby, senior center Amira Chandler, senior guard Baylee Rexing and sophomore center Cailyn Francis. The Eagles will also welcome eight freshman newcomers to their squad. The new faces include guards Tatiana Reese, Jessica McDowell-White, Tessa Burke, Trinity Golder and Grace Kirscher, forward Milly Knowles and center Bella Cravens. Center Leya DePriest is eligible to play immediately after transferring from the University of Denver.

EWU will host Simon Fraser in an exhibition game on Nov. 4 before opening the regular season against Gonzaga University on Nov. 11. Schuller said that the fans will be a critical part of the Eagles’ success.

“It’s gotta start with the Eastern fans buying the tickets instead of the Zag fans,” Schuller said. “Hopefully we can have a lot of Eastern red instead of Gonzaga blue and red in those stands on our home floor. It is a home game and needs to be treated like one by not just us, but by our fans.”

After opening against Gonzaga, the Eagles will play eight more nonconference games with five  on the road, including bouts with Oregon State and UC Riverside at the Maui Classic on Dec. 14 and Dec. 15, and three other home nonconference games including Eastern Oregon on Nov. 14, Utah on Nov. 21 and Fresno State on Dec. 2.

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Women’s basketball aims to surpass BSC preseason polls